The Octagon returns to Australia this weekend for UFC Fight Night 85 in Brisbane. The event takes place locally on Sunday, but due to the time difference, airs on Saturday night in the US. The event is headlined by a five-round heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and former champion Frank Mir. Below are our studs, value plays and fighters to avoid when setting your fantasy line-ups for the event on Saturday.
Alan Patrick ($10,800)
Alan Patrick has a favorable match-up when he gets short-notice replacement Damien Brown in a preliminary bout fight on Saturday. Brown is taking the fight on just a week's notice after Patrick's original opponent, Chad Laprise, was shifted to a different bout against Ross Pearson. Brown has won five straight fights to get in the UFC, but sports just a 15-8 overall record. Patrick is coming off his first career loss and is looking to bounce back in a very big way. He has knockout power but has only finished half of his opponents. However, with the short notice that Brown has, it is very favorable for Patrick to get a finish. This could be a fight card where finishes may be hard to come by. You have to take the odds on this one, and Patrick is a very good play for Saturday.
James Te Huna ($10,500)
James Te Huna hasn't fought since June 2014 and is currently on a 3-fight losing streak where has been finished in the first round in each of those fights. He has been battling injury issues but makes his return on Saturday for his second fight at 185 pounds. It is a must-win fight for Te Huna, and he has a favorable match-up when he takes on Steve Bosse. Bosse fights inside the Octagon for the second time and is looking to bounce back from a spectacular knockout loss from a head kick by Thiago Santos. Bosse probably isn't a UFC-caliber fighter and is likely only getting a second opportunity due to stepping up on short notice to make his debut. It is a perfect bounce back opportunity for Te Huna, who owns 13 wins by stoppage. I expect him to get his 14th stoppage victory this weekend.
Ross Pearson ($9,300)
Ross Pearson comes in as an underdog in his fight against Chad Laprise on Saturday, and that already makes him a value play as he is an underdog I think that has an excellent chance at scoring a win. Pearson has been rotating wins-and-losses in his last seven fights, and with coming off a loss, history says he should get the win this time out. He fights Chad Laprise, who was moved to this bout just over a week ago. Coincidentally, Pearson and Laprise both lost their last bouts to the same opponent- Francisco Trinaldo. It was Laprise's first career loss and he was knocked out in the process. Pearson has power and he does good against opponents with less experience, and he racks up quite a good number of punches as he lands with a lot of volume. At his price point, he has a lot of upside if you choose to put him on your roster. He makes for great value on Saturday.
Dan Kelly ($8,300)
Dan Kelly has one of the lowest salaries of all the fighters on Saturday's card, and it is interesting considering he is 10-1 in his career. He has a blue-chip prospect for his opponent in Antonio Carlos Junior, but one who struggled against a heavy takedown fighter in Patrick Cummins. Kelly is an Olympian in judo and works excellent from the clinch, and his striking has developed nicely. He doesn't do anything flashy but he does everything well. Kelly does have an uphill battle in this bout, but he will have the crowd behind him in a huge way. Carlos Junior hasn't scored an actual win in almost nine months, and he may not pull the trigger as much considering his last fight ended in 30 seconds with multiple eye pokes coming from him. Kelly makes a good target as an upset pick.
FIGHTERS TO AVOID
Richard Walsh ($9,400)
Richard Walsh is an underdog and has some solid value at his price, but I think he is a fighter to avoid on Saturday. He has a tough opponent in Viscardi Andrade, but Walsh will have the crowd behind him. The two men are almost the same type of fighter, but Walsh has shown he can be put to sleep if a big punch lands. Andrade likes to keep the fight on the feet and strike and Walsh won't be able to match him there. Walsh may get some takedowns and some top position, but I don't see him landing a lot of strikes or finishing Andrade. He may get the win but I'm not sure he has enough to justify putting him in your line-up, thus I am avoiding him.
Brendan O'Reilly ($8,200)
Brendan O'Reilly is not getting a lot of respect heading into Saturday's event as he finds himself as the biggest underdog on the card and has the lowest salary. It is for good reason as this seems to be a fight booked to get his opponent, Alan Jouban, back on the winning path. O'Reilly is a low-level welterweight who has a lot of holes in his game, especially on his feet. Against a big power puncher like Jouban, that is going to be a problem. Jouban is probably the smartest pick on the card in all honesty, but his salary is extremely high. I see O'Reilly being finished and finished quick. I can't justify putting him on your roster, but anything can happen in a fight.
RYAN FREDERICK- Alan Jouban ($11,200), James Te Huna ($10,500), Mark Hunt ($10,300), Ross Pearson ($9,300), Dan Kelly ($8,300)
Despite Alan Patrick being my top play above, I am not having him in my line-up. I did when I originally drafted this team, but I made some changes. First off, I'm going with Alan Jouban. I think he makes quick work of Brendan O'Reilly and maximizes his points potential. James Te Huna I see as another fighter who gets a first-round finish. Steve Bosse just isn't a UFC fighter and that will show again. Mark Hunt is an excellent pick. He has that power and Frank Mir doesn't have much of a chin to wishstand the punches Hunt will throw. Hunt is also smart enough to avoid going to the ground. I see Hunt getting a stoppage in the first half of the fight. Ross Pearson and Dan Kelly are my two underdog picks. Pearson throws a lot of volume and can easily catch Chad Laprise, but I expect a decision win by him. Dan Kelly is a hail mary pick and he has a tough road to win, but he can get the upset.
PAUL FONTAINE- Dan Hooker ($10,600), Mark Hunt ($10,300), Johnny Case ($9,700), Ross Pearson ($9,300), Rin Nakai ($9,000)
Nakai has only one loss in her career and it's to the current Bantamweight champion. Tate had more trouble with her than anyone else in her recent streak leading into the title challenge and I think her relentless style will wear down Leslie Smith, leading to a late KO or sub. Johnny Case is on a 12 fight win streak, including 4 in the UFC and I think he'll continue that run against Jake Matthews, who was exposed in his fight with James Vick. It's been too much, too soon for Matthews and Case is really tough. Unlike Matthews, I think Hunt will make the locals happy when he knocks out Mir early. I think Hunt is a steal at $10,300. I'm shocked that Ross Pearson is the underdog against Chad Laprise. They're both coming off losses to Francisco Trinaldo but other than that, Pearson's faced much tougher competition and is a battle-tested veteran that has power and Laprise was KO'd last time out. My final pick is another hometown hero in Daniel Hooker. Hooker is unbeaten in Australia with his only two career losses coming in Japan and the US. He should be good for finishing points as well since his last 7 wins have all been by stoppage.
PEACH MACHINE- Dan Hooker ($10,600), Viscardi Andrade ($10,000), Johnny Case ($9,700), Hector Lombard ($9,600), Rin Nakai ($9,000)
I like Rin Nakai. She took Miesha Tate to task in her most recent tilt. Alliteration is awesome. I like Johnny Case and I don't like Jake Matthews. Boom. Magny will be mauled by Mombard. Or Lombard. Don't hate Dan Hooker. Viscardi will be victorious.